After two exciting games at Staples Center, the 2014 Stanley Cup shifts to the Big Apple on Monday night with the New York Rangers looking to cut into the Los Angeles Kings’ 2-0 series lead.
Game One concluded with Justin Williams’s overtime winner off an assist from Mike Richards, 3-2, while Game Two went to double overtime and ended after captain Dustin Brown redirected Willie Mitchell’s shot to give L.A. the 5-4 win. In both games, the Kings had trailed by two goals, and it was the third straight game in which the Kings won in overtime.
Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault, who acknowledged after Game One that the Kings are “one of the best teams [he] has seen in a long time,” claims that Game Three is a “must win” for New York. He believes the Rangers will be more focused for Game Three at Madison Square Garden.
"We need to hold serve. We're back in our building,” said Vigneault on Sunday. “We've played some good hockey. We might feel that we deserve a better outcome than what we have right now, which is trailing by two games.”
It may be a hard task for the Rangers to do better than six goals in two games against goalie Jonathan Quick. In both games, the 27-year-old has looked stronger as the game progressed, denying the Rangers a goal in both third periods and all three overtime sessions.
Meanwhile, the Kings have barraged goalie Henrik Lundqvist with an average of 43.5 shots. While Quick was dominating in the later portions of both games, the Kings offense also seemed to improve. It’s very rare for Lundqvist to concede five goals in a game, but the Kings have applied a great deal of pressure on the veteran.
What the Rangers may have in their corner is not just the home crowd, but perhaps more endurance. Superstar defenseman Drew Doughty spent 41:41 minutes on the ice on Saturday -- far more than any other player. The Kings are also coming off three series that went seven games, including a particularly arduous one with the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference Finals.
"[It's] a lot of hockey," Kings head coach Darryl Sutter said. "There's always lots of talk about depth and those things. Somebody is on a little bit of a roll or not. They'll talk about having depth, not having depth.
"Depth only matters when you win. You need depth when you get to overtime games and games after overtime games. We've managed to do that. We've moved guys around. Obviously guys get banged up and things like that. But that is your biggest issue always in a series. It's not just playing guys. It's getting the quality, getting good minutes out of them."
Sutter can perhaps take solace in the fact that only five teams out of 48 have lost a best-of-seven Stanley Cup series after winning the first two games.
That fact is not expected to hold back the Rangers, who have won three of their last four home games, and have kept things close against the 2012 Stanley Cup champions.
“We know our game and we know the way to play. When we do that, we’re a good team,” Vigneault said, according to the New York Post.
Player To Watch: Henrik Lundqvist
Time: 8 p.m. ET
Place: Madison Square Garden
TV Channel: NBC Sports Network
Online Stream: NBC Sports Live Extra
Betting Odds: New York -145, Los Angeles +125
Prediction: Rangers over Kings, 2-1